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    • A group of girls recites the Boy Scout pledge.

To Cook or To Camp? Scouting For Gender Roles

Asher Joseph ’25 Op/Ed Editor
Since the 1970s, young girls have sought acceptance into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), arguing that the organization offers more extensive opportunities to develop skills otherwise absent from the programming of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Since the 1970s, young girls have sought acceptance into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), arguing that the organization offers more extensive opportunities to develop skills otherwise absent from the programming of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Some believe that the Girl Scouts’ emphasis on domestic badges and initiatives overshadow that placed on survival skills, reinforcing restrictive gender roles and stereotypes. Historically, both groups have resisted attempts by children of the opposite sex to join their ranks; however, the expansion of BSA’s eligibility requirements in 2019 — intended to allay accusations of gender-based discrimination— only confirms the inequalities between the organizations.

If young girls must join BSA in order to become more proficient in skills such as camping and hiking, this pushes the narrative that such activities are inherently masculine. Furthermore, by preserving outdated views of femininity, the Girl Scouts are also complicit in enforcing traditional gender expectations. While including all
children in BSA might teach young girls that they are capable of occupying male-dominated fields, it would also perpetuate the idea that such fields are inherently masculine and therefore “unsuitable” for girls. Alienating young girls from peers who elect to embrace the traditionally feminine connotations of Girl Scouts creates the illusion  that the varying degrees of femininity are arranged in a hierarchy, rather than a spectrum. On the other hand, BSA membership provides young girls with a safe space to engage in often inaccessible activities with one another without the intimidation instilled by societal gender roles. Although affinity spaces are often vital to the preservation of one’s sense of identity, separated spaces do not cultivate gender unity — rather, the lack of diverse perspectives in the developmental stages inhibit Scouts’ abilities to collaborate. The responsibility for this change should not fall to young girls to teach boys to respect them, but rather to the leaders of these organizations who possess the ability to create programming that emphasizes the value of collaboration and civility.

Contrary to the organizations’ claims, the gendered distinction between their curricula is evidenced by their respective galleries of merit
badges available to Scouts. According to the official BSA website, awarded skills range from “American Business” and “Programming” to “Reptile and Amphibian Study” and “Sports,” all of which could be deemed essential skills. On the other hand, the Girl Scouts’ most coveted badges include “Cookie Entrepreneurship,” “Manners,” and “Environmental Stewardship,” with a rollout of STEM badges coinciding with the push to allow young girls to register with BSA. Although the organizations’ respective badge systems currently comprise a diversified range of life skills, the lack — or limitation — of certain subjects are indicative of the stereotypical narrative that badge requirements push.

While they are, on the one hand, progressive, and catalysts for the empowerment of young women, the Girl Scouts’ survival honors and outdoor activities are not nearly as extensive as that of BSA.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
Abby Rakotomavo
Elona Spiewak
Veena Scholand
Miriam Levin
Liliana Dumas
Saisha Ghai
Olivia Yu
Anya Mahajan
Rain Zeng
Winter Szarabajka
Aerin O'Brien

Karun Srihari
Samantha Bernstein
Hana Beauregard
Micah Betts
Elaina Paktuka
Edel Lee
Anjali van Bladel
Nate Gerber
Rebecca Li

Hailey Willey
Web Editors
Amelia Hudonogov-Foster
Anvi Pathak
Chloe Wang

Faculty Advisers
Stephen May
Elizabeth Gleason
Shanti Madison
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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